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Social Media Users Should Consider Their Personal Information

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Social media has completely changed the dynamics of how people communicate with one another. While some users might only keep in touch with friends through it, businesses are rapidly jumping onto platforms to use it to promote their products. In an age where a picture can appear on thousands of devices all over the world, privacy has become a major concern for anyone using social media. Social media users should consider their personal information and privacy on whatever platforms they’re choosing to use.

Social media was built on the foundation of users sharing, and in a world dominated by mobile devices, it’s not surprising that the majority of today’s computing is done through mobile platforms. One study found that in 2018, 69% of all American adults over 18-years-old used social media regularly over the subsequent year; this does not include YouTube as a social media platform. This number grows ever larger, particularly in regard to seniors. Nearly 40% of them use some form of social media, a number that has increased by about 200% since 2012.

Due to this increase, there is also a much larger group of individuals out there to steal money, information, and identities. We have seen an increase in cyberattacks year over year. Privacy concerns are prevalent in today’s social media environment, and users must be aware of how they are putting their data in harm’s way. Most people cite social media as a place where they can share their views, personal health information, learn scientific information, engage in job, familial, and society-related activities, and where they get most of their news, whether that news is credible or not.

Role of Privacy

As always, privacy will depend on how much an individual prioritizes the security of his or her personal information. If someone wants to keep a semblance of themselves private, they have to avoid placing that information in a public space like social media. This can be difficult since social media platforms take lots of information without the user knowing. Add in the functionality that a lot of developers integrate into these websites and, before you know it, control over personal data is suddenly a problem.

Obviously, these platforms require you to give over some of your personal information to them in order to use the service, but when you begin to lose control over who has your data, and what data has been shared, scary situations can arise. A 2014 survey suggested that 91% of Americans have lost control over their data, and that advertisers and social media companies are taking more of their data than they even know.

Half of Americans know, and largely understand, the problems they face by having their information fall into the wrong hands. This leads them to be more proactive about securing their personal information. An issue everyone runs into, however, is that in order to use social media (or e-commerce for that matter), companies demand access to more personal information than necessary.

Why Stay on Social Media If They Are Stealing from You?

As IT professionals, we constantly see companies openly take personal information, the information individuals share, and their user histories to create a consumer profiles that will be sold for profit to advertisers. We frequently warn people to protect their personal information, and  a lot of the time, they don’t.

We understand… maybe you use social media for marketing. Maybe you are one of the ones that are careful what they share with these sites. Maybe, you are comfortable with it and are one of the millions of people that trade their privacy for convenience. Whatever the reason is, if social media has become an important part of your life, you most likely have made some privacy concessions, knowingly-or-not, in order to use it. Even if you answered yes to every topic above, this doesn’t mean you can’t check to make sure all the privacy settings you would like to have are in place. Check each platform’s privacy section you use and see if there is anything you could be adding that you haven’t yet.

Between social media and online commerce, more personally identifiable information is shared with corporations than you would ever knowingly share. This speaks to just how oblivious the typical user is about their own personal information. People find value in social media. In fact, there are businesses that provide their staff with regular social media breaks as to not interrupt organizational productivity with social media. When you consider 30% of all online time is spent on social media, which only increases when people go mobile, you begin to understand that it carries value for hundreds of millions of people.

Are you a Tampa or Kansas City business concerned about your private information being tracked and shared by Internet-based services? Do you have a good idea about who has your personal information and where it is going?We are here to help with any concerns or questions you may have. Check out our information security page, and leave your thoughts about this issue in the comments.

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